Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Coleman sparkles as Mancini slips closer to exit door

Everton 2 Manchester City 0

Tim Rich

It was impossible to leave a reverberating Goodison Park without reflecting on the future of the two managers, Roberto Mancini and David Moyes.

This was a grim day for Mancini, who saw any faint hopes of retaining the Premier League title disappear, so ensuring more speculation about his job prospects.

Men who take the Premier League title from Alex Ferguson do not last long. Kenny Dalglish quit the moment he achieved that feat, Carlo Ancelotti lasted a season, while Jose Mourinho survived for just a few months after Manchester United wrested the championship back.

Here are five reasons why Roberto Mancini may go the same way . . .

1 The creative tension isn't that creative any more

Gary Lineker once described Ferguson as "a strange man, irritated by everything."

The same could be said of Mancini. Last month he was too angry to go into his own dressing room at Southampton; on Saturday he could not bring himself to climb up to Everton's press room.

Mancini has almost always had a good rapport with those in his first 11, but one former player commented: "If you're not in his team, he doesn't want to know you."

That coldness may have spread beyond the substitutes' bench.

When he explained the tensions at Internazionale that led to Mancini's departure five years ago, the club's president, Massimo Moratti, said: "We were still rowing in the same direction, but we were having to row harder."

2 Mancini is not a man for the long term

By his own admission, the Italian is not someone who sees himself at the same club for a decade and there have been plenty of offers of work coming his way.

This summer will be a critical one for City and the owners may want a coach to oversee the fruits of that spending for the next half-dozen seasons.

Mancini was appointed because he was a better, more credible brand than Mark Hughes and he may go for the same reason.

3 City are paying for an idle summer

Mancini (pictured below) is not directly responsible for transfers and it was to his fury that Eden Hazard, Robin van Persie and Javi Martinez went to Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, while he had to make do with Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair.

The charge against Mancini is that none of these players, for whatever reason, has made any real contribution.

4 City will not be close to retaining their title

It is hard for any manager to retain a league title – in England only five men in the last 60 years have done it.

However, there is more to City's abdication than that. In points terms, they are on course to make one of the worst defences of the crown in the history of the Premier League.

Only two champions have finished as far adrift of the eventual winners as City are now. Manchester United limped in 15 points behind Arsenal's 'Invincibles' in 2004, while Blackburn Rovers, who had opted not to strengthen after winning the title, were fully 21 points off the pace when handing back the Premier League trophy in 1996.

5 The Champions League is still key

The key to City's progress is the Champions League and, unless they can qualify for the latter stages and raise their UEFA coefficient, they will be forever condemned to being drawn against the big beasts in the group stages.

Will a management team of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, brought up at Barcelona, really entrust the club to a manager who has never reached even a semi-final of the European Cup – a trophy that, by June, a suddenly unemployed Jose Mourinho might have won three times?

If Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero had been fit, Mancini's team might have made more of a fight of it at Goodison, where they were lacklustre and lacking leadership.

Seamus Coleman was the best player on the park, creating Leon Osman's elegant opener, while Osman and Darron Gibson bossed midfield.

Even when Steven Pienaar was rightly dismissed after being shown the yellow card for a second time, Everton were the better team, although goalkeeper Jan Mucha made saves from Carlos Tevez, James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta and they were fortunate that referee Lee Probert ignored Marouane Fellaini's handball inside the area, indicating a non-existent Osman offence outside the box.

Moyes reflected: "We have beaten the champions to keep our fight for a top-four place alive. Eleven years ago we beat Fulham to avoid relegation.''

Moyes then made a point about Coleman, the type of low-cost, high-yield footballer Everton must rely on.

"Coleman has things to learn defensively, but he is coming on. Seamus cost us only 60 grand, yet people have been pointing the finger at me for not progressing the side. This has been a reminder to the fans about where we are and what we have achieved."

It would be sad and illogical if Moyes were to walk away now, having built such a promising side. The FA Cup defeat by Wigan Athletic was a blip. The real Everton showed their new creativity in the first half and all their old resilience in the second half after Pienaar's red. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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